Any person, corporation, or partnership selling new vehicles for retail or wholesale purposes in Florida must have a Florida car dealership license. The same rule applies to used cars (Florida used car dealership license). The general rule of thumb says that if you sell three or more vehicles in 12 months, you must have a Florida Auto Dealer License. All applicants must complete a 16-hour training course. A copy of the dealership training course certificate from a department-approved training school is required with the dealership application. Applicants for any of these licenses must complete the following steps.
A. Pre-License Requirements
Step 1: Location
You will first need to get the location where you will start the dealership business. The office should have a prominent concrete structure. The office cannot be in residence. Also, the area must have at least a seven-foot ceiling height. The office must have at least 100 square feet of interior floor space, not including hallways, closets, or bathrooms. Every motor vehicle dealership should have a display space for their vehicles.
The display space must be large enough to store and display all the vehicles offered for sale by the dealer. The display space must be under the distributor’s exclusive control and cannot include spaces reserved for employees, customers, or parking to the general public. A viewing space must be separated from another dispenser viewing space by a permanent barrier not less than three feet high.
Dealers must conspicuously display their hours of operation at or near the dealer’s office entrance on a sign, placard, or other durable means. Dealers must provide the Department with all the correct information and telephone numbers that are necessary to contact. The character must use letters of sufficient size large and the right color to be visible and legible at least 50 meters from the public right of way that serves the Concessionaire.
Step 2: Define the business entity
When registering your business in Florida, you will be asked to choose a business structure. The type of system will determine whether you need to register with individual agencies in the state and how your business will operate. Remember that every company must be legally incorporated for tax purposes to avoid tax problems with the IRS. The type of entity you choose for your business can be any of the following –
- Sole Proprietorship: with this entity, you can use your name without registering a fictitious name.
- LLC: this entity can be created for one or more members or partners of the business.
- Corporation: it is a legal entity made up of shareholders.
Step 3: Surety Bond
All applicants to dealerships must present a guarantee bond. This bond can be obtained directly from the Training Center.
Step 4: Federal Employer Identification Number
Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number. This registration is required for any US business that has employees and business partnerships and corporations.
Step 5: Sales Tax
As an automobile dealer in the state of Florida, you will also be required to pay sales tax. To do this, you must be registered with the state Department of Revenue and obtain a state sales tax number. This number allows you to collect taxes on vehicle sales.
Step 6: Required Education
Complete the 16-hour class required for the dealer pre-license required applying for the dealer license. Other courses are Florida car dealer continuing education 8-hour class, Florida car dealer pre-license 8-hour class, and Florida auto dealer 2-hour legal updates course.
Step 7: Fingerprints
Obtain electronic fingerprints for all dealer officers from a service provider approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
B. License Requirements
Step 1: Application
Submit a completed application to the FLHSMV with the required documents, along with the appropriate fee to the responsible regional office.
Step 2: Garage Insurance
Provide proof of garage liability insurance that includes bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage protection. Independent dealers, auction and wholesale applicants have the option of submitting a general liability insurance policy in conjunction with a commercial auto policy. Garage insurance does not apply to the salvage dealers.
Step 3: Name of the business
Provide proof of registration to the FLHSMV of the business entity and fictitious name (if applicable) with the Florida Division of Corporations.
Step 4: Certificate 16 hours of education
Provide a copy of the distributor training completion to the FLHSMV. The applicant will receive a certificate of completion from a state-approved training school after completing the pre-licensing class.
Step 5: Proof of fingerprints
Provide an electronic fingerprint proof to the FLHSMV from an FDLE service provider. Applicant must contact the FDLE approved service provider and have their fingerprints taken. The provider will give the applicant a receipt and send the fingerprints to FDLE. The applicant must attach a copy of this receipt with their license application.